Reviews - What do customers think about Better than Working?
A True Hidden Gem Sep 1, 2007
I knew nothing whatsoever about Patrick Skene Catling before I read his memoir Better Than Working. I enjoy reading about writers and many biographies have served as excellent introductions to the work of authors I hadn't previously tackled. This looked like one such example.
Some of you may well be aware of his work, widely read intellectuals that you are, but I am betting that most of you are not. A journalist for most of his life, Catling has written a dozen novels but found his greatest success with a children's book called Better Than Working Chocolate Touch about a boy who, you've guessed it, could turn things to chocolate just by touching them. A sort of Cadbury's King Midas, if you will.
The charm of Better Than Working is in reading about a man, full of self-deprecation, who happened to be in the company of legends, on standing in the middle of history as it unfolded and writes about it all with such affection and good humour. Catling had an affair with Jane Russell, lived with Peggy Lee for a while and was a close friend of P.G. Wodehouse so the anecdotes fly around like wasps at a picnic. He was also reporting from wars and revolutions and never failed to make friends in the harshest of conditions.
Great names of the 20th Century can be found on almost every page of this book - Billie Holiday, the Duke of Windsor, Graham Greene, Robert Mitchum, Duke Ellington - but you never feel the author is showing off. He simply can't believe his luck, and neither will you if you manage to pick up this hidden gem of a book.
(Originally reviewed on the Me And My Big Mouth blog)